Should you buy a used car from a dealer or from a private seller?

Money-101

Should you buy a used car from a dealer or from a private seller?

Shopping for your first car? Looking to upgrade? Simply replacing your last vehicle because its engine has blown up in a shower of sparks and leaking liquid?


Shopping for your first car? Looking to upgrade? Simply replacing your last vehicle because its engine has blown up in a shower of sparks and leaking liquid?

Whatever your reason for being in the market, one question inevitably comes up - should you buy a used car from a dealer or a private seller?

They both have their advantages and disadvantages and it can be hard to know which to choose. We’ve covered the pros and cons of each to help you find the best car - and deal - for your needs.

Buying a used car from a dealer

Buying a used car from a dealership will almost always be the safer option. However, dealers aren’t perfect - it’s definitely worth looking at all the options before making a purchase.

The pros of buying a used car from a dealer

  • You have more consumer rights than buying from a private seller.
  • A car from a dealership will often have a warranty.
  • Sales teams will be familiar with setting up financing options.
  • Dealers will usually have inspected the car and repaired any issues.
  • You should be able to part-exchange your old car. 
  • You may be able to negotiate for after-care, such as MOTs and services.

The cons of buying a used car from a dealership:

  • Buying from a dealer is usually a lot more expensive than buying privately.
  • Sales teams are often experts at haggling, making it more likely you’ll pay more than you need to (unless you’re also an expert negotiator).
  • Dealers will try to sell you add-ons that you don’t actually need, which could also push the price up higher.

If you’re thinking of buying a used car from a dealer, there’s a number of places you can go to: a franchise dealership that also sells used cars, an independent car dealer, or a car supermarket.

Buying a used car from a private seller

Buying a used from a private seller doesn’t have the same level of security, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its own advantages.

The pros of buying a used car from a private seller

  • The price is likely to be lower with a private seller than a dealer.
  • The owner should know the car’s history better than anyone.
  • You can ask the owner any questions about the car directly.
  • If you had a very specific car in mind, you’re more likely to find rare cars with a private seller than a dealer.

The cons of buying a used car from a private seller

  • You have very few rights if something goes wrong with the car.
  • You’ll need to arrange independent cover if you want to test-drive the car.
  • You won’t be able to arrange a hire purchase and would need to consider a loan as finance.
  • It’s up to you whether you can trust what the seller tells you about the car’s history.

If you do choose to buy a car from a private seller then it’s important to make sure the car comes with its full paperwork and service history. This will let you know how the car has been maintained and whether it’s needed any major work to keep it going.

If there’s no paperwork, don’t take the risk.

The verdict - dealership vs private seller

If you can trust a car is in good condition and everything is in order, buying it from a private seller can definitely be a great money-saving deal.

However, if you’re not sure what to look out for when buying a used car, sticking to the dealers makes the process much less risky. This also makes it ideal if it’s your first time buying a car.

Are you in the market for a used car and wondering about your finance options? Then check out our guide exploring the different finance options available.


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